Office Visit: Dr. Ross Oberschlake by Arselia Gales, assistant editor

December 2021 | Source:

photography by Aliza Baran

Dentists spend most of their working hours inside their own practices, so they usually don’t get many opportunities to see what it’s like inside another doctor’s office. Dentaltown’s recurring Office Visit profile offers a chance for Townies to meet their peers, hear their stories and get a sense of how they practice.

Every year, Dentaltown asks readers to vote for their favourite products and services, then we tally the results and publish the full list of Townie Choice Awards winners in our December issue. (Check out this year’s roundup here.)

Out of all the readers who completed their ballots, we draw one person at random to win a special prize: $1,000 and the chance to appear on the cover of Dentaltown magazine as part of an Office Visit profile. This year’s winner, Dr. Ross Oberschlake of Hillcrest Family Dental in Waukesha, Wisconsin, is an active member on Dentaltown message boards and has shared more than 200 posts.

Oberschlake, who describes dentistry as the perfect blend of artistry and medicine, is a huge proponent of continuing education and met with Dentaltown founder Dr. Howard Farran on one of his recent trips to Arizona for a Spear Education event. Read on and see why that meeting was so special to him, why he enjoys composite work and what his goals are for his practice in the next four years.

You grew up in a small town—so small, in fact, that your father was one of only two doctors in town. How did you decide that dentistry was the career for you? My mother was an art teacher and my father is a veterinarian. I grew up drawing, sculpting and painting, as well as assisting my dad on emergency calls to farms or as another set of hands in surgery. As a child, I was drawn to veterinary medicine, but my dad encouraged me to explore all areas of medicine, including dentistry.

Our local dentist was equally as amazing as my father at what he did. Dentistry proved to be the perfect blend of artistry and medicine I was looking for. Over the years, I shadowed many medical specialties, but kept falling back to dentistry.

How do you think growing up in a small town has influenced how you practice today? Immediately after dental school, I practiced as an associate for almost four years in downtown Chicago. There were certainly some things I liked about it, but I much prefer a smaller-city feeling. In a smaller town, there can be a strong sense of community—when someone is in need, we want to help them out. That’s one of the main reasons why I wanted to be a dentist; I believe it’s one of the health professions where loyalty and trust by our patients is so strong. Dentists have the opportunity to see an entire family, from great-grandmother down to granddaughter.

You describe dentistry as a blend of artistry and medicine. How does this philosophy translate into your work? Creating beauty in every restoration is a personal goal of mine. Whether it is a Class I composite or full arch of porcelain, I want to make something look natural. I mentioned sculpting earlier; I get the opportunity to create tiny sculptures multiple times a day. When there’s a hole in a tooth, I try my best to sculpt it back into a tooth with my composite, not just fill the hole and make sure it occludes. I also enjoy doing my own diagnostic wax-ups. I believe it really helps me understand the case before starting it, and I have a better sense of what complications may arise as I am completing a case.

What are some of your favourite procedures? I’m a big fan of composite work. I think it stems from my mom’s artistic cultivation growing up. I love doing composite veneers as well as complex posterior composites. Statistically, I do fewer crowns than the average dentist, but I am very OK with that. Often I will see a new patient with a mouth full of moderate to large decay, and I prefer to restore them all with composite initially. Sure, the teeth may be best served with a crown, but if funds are an issue, I would rather treat five teeth instead of burning the patient’s budget on a single crown.

One very fun procedure I’ve started doing in the past couple of years is restoring full arches with injection molding. I’ve had some great success with it. One thing I love about composite is that the patient’s teeth are completely changed at the end of the appointment. You can even show them the “before” and “after” photos that day. It instills confidence in you and gives you the opportunity to show off your work instantly.

You said that continuing education is your passion. What do you enjoy the most about it? How often do you attend CE events or seminars? I do truly love taking CE. I’m involved in a few study clubs and certainly enjoy going to different seminars and workshops. I usually travel out of state at least once a year for CE. I’m sure you have heard that continuing education without implementation is just expensive entertainment, so I do try my best to apply what I learn. I am lucky to have an amazing team who is receptive to progress and is similarly drawn to education. If I am not progressing as a dentist every day, I feel like I’m doing a disservice to my patients and to the dentist I aspire to be.

You had the opportunity to meet Dr. Howard Farran during your recent trip to Scottsdale, Arizona, for a workshop at the Spear Education center. How did that come about? First of all, I was shocked that he would take the time out of his busy schedule to sit down and have dinner with me! From being acti